Monday, March 27, 2006

All About Eve

Like most people, as a youth I had some pretty suspect musical preferences which I would most likely not play today. I'm not, of course, referring to perennial favourites like the sublime Marillion or the genius of The Sisters. Oh no. I'm talking about the embarrassing stuff. I have some Jethro Tull albums which should never have been released and The Enid is frankly unlistenable. How did I ever think King Crimson was any good and as for Kingmaker! (Notice I'm not putting in links to prevent an awful aural accident).

Anyway, a guilty pleasure from my past has just popped up again. I first got into All About Eve in 1987 when I bought their outrageously hippy "Flowers in our hair". However, they toned down the hippyness a bit as they went on, ultimately being classified as a bit too poppy to be alternative and a bit too alternative to be poppy. But this just goes to show how meaningless classifications are. A 2 CD + 1 DVD retrospective of all their work has just been released and is called Keepsakes. What is amazing is that you get all 40 songs and 20 videos for £12.99. It is packed with great tracks, best known probably being the beautiful Martha's Harbour. However, there is also the dramatic "Are You Lonely" featuring the little known guitar wannabe David Gilmour. There are too many top tunes to keep picking them out but if you remember and liked All About Eve then you could be far worse that spend a couple of quid on this. I'm sure you will be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bump names

A good mate of mine, the increasingly inappropriately named Glastonbury Jon, called his youngest sprog Reg when it was just a bump. Even now Jon occasionally calls her Reg despite her being all grown up and really called Katia. Quality. I was a bit disappointed when Niki my sister in law got herself "in the family way" and chose the bump name of Butter Bean. I know she is an artist but that is mighty abstract man!

In order to prevent such shabby bump names in the future I have taken it on myself to assist. So when we went out last week to celebrate finding out that our mates Mellon were awaiting a visit from the stork, I suggested Bongo. Ellen seems to quite like it but I think I'm going to have to work on Marcus.

I have no idea what my bump name was but since I was sharing the bump with my twin sister I suspect it may have been Trouble.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A bad day for Barney and Boo

Here is a picture of Barney and Boo being carefree and frankly quite lazy. But they weren't looking like that today. Firstly they were a little tetchy this morning because we didn't give them any supper last night. Obviously they moaned a bit but nothing spectacular. However, their combined meows reached something of a crescendo when it became apparent that they weren't getting any breakfast either. This was replaced with a horrified whimper as in one fluid movement we scooped them up and popped them in their cat carrier. And well they might whimper since we were taking them to the vets to be neutered.

Neutering boy cats is very routine these days but even so it is an operation which involves a general anaesthetic so we were a little concerned for the wee tykes but they were fine. The most amazing thing was finding out that Barney weighs 10 pounds and he is only 7 months old! He's still got another 3 to 5 months growing to go. He'll be a horse. Anyway, when we got them home it was much fussing over them together with a full packet of Whiskers treats each to bribe them into liking us again. I shouldn't laugh bit it is funny watching them walking about the place like John Wayne. And the good news for the boys is that we can now start letting them outside without worrying that they will impregnate half of South West London now they have had their love spuds whipped off.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sainsbury's Checkout

I shop in Sainsbury's supermarket in Richmond several times a week. It's not perfect but it gets most things right. But there is one thing that I find a little vexing. When you arrive at the checkout the assistant slowly takes a carrier bag and places the first 3 items in it for you. Then, just when you think you have lucked onto someone who wants to pack for you, they shove the half filled bag at you and start firing the rest of your shopping through the till at near warp speed! Obviously it is beyond the capabilities of a gifted octopus to keep up with the torrential flow of produce flying down the checkout. So the assistant finishes whilst you are still frantically stuffing things into bags.

Here in lies the dilemma. At this point the assistant will demand payment. So do you continue packing away your purchases under the withering look of the till monkey or pay and then be tutted at by the next customer who cannot be served until you have cleared your bags away. After all, I'm doing them the favour of shopping with them, why am I being forced to rush?

Of course being a problem solving type of chap I have a solution. Make sure that when you buy loose vegetables and fruit that you don't weigh and label it. Why should you do their job for them? Liberally spread these amongst your other stuff and then bask in the relaxed packing experience where the torrent periodically judders to a halt as the spotty teenager consults their laminated cheat sheet to try and identify the difference between a King Edwards and a Vivaldi potato.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It be witchcraft!

I've had IBM Thinkpads with wireless conectivity for years (obviously because I work for IBM). I can sit in my garden at home and access the Interweb or sit in my bedroom and access the latest builds of Lotus Notes. But the one thing I have never managed to do is print to the printer connected to my home PC. For some reason my home PC has never been able to see my Thinkpad across my wireless network.

Eventually I asked my top mate Matt to have a look to see if he could find the problem. I'm glad to say that I had got the basics right so I wasn't being a total Muppet. The problem, it turned our, was that I was using Zone Labs for Firewall and Anti Virus but the "Net Firewall Services" was also enabled, presumably after I installed XP SP2. Turning this off didn't compromise security in any way but it allowed me to print from my laptop.

So now I can sit working in the garden and send documents to the printer. I think it is brilliant but our cats, Barney and Boo, think the printer is possesed.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Prof Ports

Due to my somewhat informal interpretation of school timetables and relaxed attitude to attending lessons, in my youth I was not a star performer when it came to examinations. I wasn't particularly bothered about it until it dawned on me that I wasn't going to go to university with just one CSE in woodwork. So at 18 my mates all started new lives at cathedrals of knowledge, moving to exciting cites and meeting new people whilst I was stuck in Hull and had to get a job. Many times I went visiting various friends in Cambridge, Liverpool, Keele and Newcastle so I got to see what I was missing. It seemed to me like a carefree life of decadence and bohemian study. But then the grass is always greener on the other side.

So imagine my ironic pleasure at being invited to give a lecture on Collaborative technologies at Manchester University. I was lecturing to a group of post graduates who are studying for a Masters in Computer supported cooperative work. Standing in the Auditorium looking up at all the students who had worked so hard to gain their places at university I wonder what they would have thought if they had known that it was the first time I had ever set foot in an Auditorium at a University.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I'm no food prude

I had to pop over to Geneva to present the Lotus strategy to a large company in the Aerospace industry today. They were a very good group who ooohed and ahhed in all the right places and more importantly laughed at my jokes. As is the case with most business day trips, I just got to see two airports and a conference room. But even so, I was really surprised that you can get from London to Switzerland in just over an hour. Pretty much the same amount of time that it would have taken me to fly to Manchester. I was lucky enough to get bumped up to Business Class. It's always nice to be in the pointly end of the plane but I wish it could have been for a longer flight, business class is pretty much wasted on such a short flight and even being in the Club Class lounge is a hollow experience when you can't thrash the free booze because you have to drive home from the airport. And why do they think piping birdsong into the lounge will relax you? I find it very irritating.

The one advantage of being in Club Class was that we got a proper meal with proper metal cutlery. The chicken salad we had was very nice except for one howling error. Lurking beneath the kos lettuce and tomatoes was ... Pineapple. What! I'm no food prude and I have even been known to toss the occasional slice of pineapple on a gammon steak when I want a bit of 70's nostalgia but there is no excuse for polluting a perfectly good chicken salad with tropical fruit. It reminds me of when Ben had a royal rant about lettuce in all day breakfast sandwiches . "Why", he not unreasonably opined, "Does anybody in the world have lettuce for breakfast?".